Friedman is suing Stabosz for defamation of character

 

Shaw Friedman (left) and Tim Stabosz

La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman is suing La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz for defamation of character based on statements and accusations Stabosz recently made about Friedman in emails and on Facebook. Friedman has filed the lawsuit as an individual, not on behalf of the county, seeking damages “in such amount as shall be determined by the evidence.”

In part, the lawsuit states:

“… in January 2021 Stabosz “maliciously made and published a number of false statements defaming (Friedman) by, among other things, implying that Plaintiff has engaged in criminal acts and professional misconduct. In an email dated January 5 and addressed to the La Porte County Commissioners and members of the La Porte County Council, Defendant said ‘Mr. Friedman has evidenced himself to be a walking talking (sic) conflict of interest,’ following this false general statement with several specific allegations of conflict of interest, including a false claim that Plaintiff received referral fees on county business and lied about it. In a press release (to media) issued on January 7, 2021, issued from his office as Auditor of LaPorte County, Defendant claimed that Plaintiff “has been shown to be unethical and unscrupulous in his dealings with (La Porte) county.” In a January 10, 2021, post on his Facebook page entitled ‘Tim Stabosz for LaPorte County Auditor,’ Defendant wrote: “… there are forces in our county that seek to use the county for their own personal gain, undermining its financial integrity and moral dignity. The most notorious example of these forces is Attorney Shaw Friedman.’ Defendant went on to say “… on the eve of the Commission meeting this past Wednesday, (I) sent an email to both the Commission and the County Council, including my views on Mr. Friedman’s myriad conflicts of interest, how he recruits and trains candidates that are then beholden to him as county attorney, and how he basically ‘runs’ the county through these operative/henchmen to feather his own nest. It gets worse, but I’m going to save that for the actual email I sent to county officials, which I will post now.’ … In a January 21, 2021, Facebook post, Defendant falsely claimed that La Porte County Commissioners ‘Sheila Matias and Rich Mrozinski showed themselves to be little more than ‘bagmen’ for Attorney Shaw Friedman.’ … Plaintiff’s counsel demanded that Defendant retract the false and defamatory statements and apologize for making them. Defendant has failed and refused to do so.”

Below is a letter Friedman sent to the La Porte County Commission and Council about the lawsuit:

“Dear Members of the Commission and Council: 

“I am writing to inform you that that my South Bend attorneys late yesterday afternoon (Feb. 10) filed my defamation lawsuit against Timothy Stabosz in St. Joseph Circuit Court. (Rather than face a round of recusals from judges here in La Porte County who could not hear the case, we have filed in an adjoining county.) 

“Since several of you are receiving questions from either media or constituents about the multiple claims by Mr. Stabosz against me, you are now able to simply respond that because this is ‘pending litigation’ you’re unable to comment on any of the claims. 

“The case is captioned ‘Shaw Friedman v. Timothy Stabosz’ because Mr. Stabosz is being sued by me strictly in his personal capacity. As many of you know, he has made a series of claims in emails and Facebook posts starting on December 6, 2020, and continuing for over two months including the six weeks he has served as County Auditor. It is my firm belief that all his actions, statements and outrageous conduct toward me are outside the ‘scope of his authority,’ are certainly not within the statutory duties imparted to him, and that in no way should La Porte County taxpayers have to pick up the tab for his conduct. 

“By contrast, in an email to my attorneys at 1:18 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Mr. Stabosz vowed that he would insist the ‘county’s insurance carrier pay to defend any suit your client should file. This is because everything I am doing and saying is to protect the managerial and financial integrity of La Porte County, and to stop Mr. Friedman from fleecing the public.’ As you can see, even after two cease-and-desist letters were sent to him, he continued his statements alleging misconduct on my part as late as Tuesday morning. 

“Since the first email that Mr. Stabosz sent to members of the 463GOP club on December 6, 2020, and in the over two months since responding to his claims asserting wrongful behavior and even criminal conduct on my part, not one minute of my time dealing with this and responding to his claims has been billed to La Porte County. Furthermore, my engagement of private lawyers in South Bend is strictly being paid out of my pocket and I would not dream of asking La Porte County taxpayers to pick up the costs for this litigation. 

“As Mr. Stabosz apparently will be seeking to have the taxpayers pick up the costs of his defense, I will naturally be recusing from this issue of ‘coverage’ and will ask Mr. DiMartino to advise both the commission and council on this issue. 

“I also want to say ‘thanks’ to so many of you who have relayed your support and encouragement during this challenging time. I will continue tirelessly representing La Porte County and our citizens without fear or favor and look forward to a court’s determination on my claims. 

Shaw 

Shaw R. Friedman”

20 Responses to “Friedman is suing Stabosz for defamation of character”

  1. Bill Proud I

    Feb 19. 2021

    I only hope 3 yrs. And 10 months we will not have to deal with Stabosz. He spent most of his time in city gov. attacking the mayor and anyone he didn’t agree with. That may be the reason voters rejected him when he ran for mayor.The taxpayers should not have to pay for his legal fees.

    Reply to this comment
    • ME

      Feb 22. 2021

      Want to know what really happens? Go look at all the county tapes of all the organizations Mr Friedman is the legal council for. What I have observed for quite awhile is more than legal advice being expressed. Go see the tapes and judge for yourself. The organization not legal “council” should be running the meeting.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Concerned

    Feb 19. 2021

    Regardless of who is right or wrong in the cause of action, it is the citizens/taxpayers of La Porte County that will suffer.

    This county desperately needs to attract business. Any company looking to come to La Porte County is going to do their research and when this type of bickering is what dominates the news, they’re going to look elsewhere.

    Reply to this comment
  3. me

    Feb 19. 2021

    It is time to sit back and think this through and work together as “R” and “D” s. We voted you into office knowing that you are very knowledgeable and you were experienced in government. You were selected to your position hoping you would work for the voters not to argue and appear to look like fools. You know who I am talking about ,and who you are, Help make our city proud not foolish. Lets all work together not against each other. The county and the city needs to grow and bring in businesses so that we can grow. So, put on your big boy hats and start working together, you really don’t need to go to court to prove a point. Good luck. Don’t forget to shake hands and start working for us, the voters.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Problemsolver

    Feb 19. 2021

    I’ve said for years, when 2 people face off on the taxpayers dime, consider it like a good old fashioned duel. I’m not talking about violence (although ticket revenue would completely fund our government….) . What I mean is the losing side respectfully resigns and walks away from the job. Done and done.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Joe

    Feb 19. 2021

    A lot of people associated with the GOP seem set to learn the expensive lesson that “freedom of speech” does not guarantee “speech free from consequence”.

    Reply to this comment
    • Mark

      Feb 19. 2021

      You’re correct, Joe. A lot of GOP members do learn this lesson because as we all know, the DNC can say whatever the hell they want with zero repercussions. Not that I am defending either side in this specific case, how long did we hear leftist news agencies, celebrities, and politicians support the riots last year? Our current unduly elected Vice President even helped bail those weirdos out of jail!

      Reply to this comment
  6. Sandy

    Feb 20. 2021

    Oh my. Since this is a personal lawsuit let’s keep it that way and not air it in on a public forum. If this were to go before a jury many would already be swayed one way or the other. The world is so tough to navigate as it is now that two kids on the playground shouldn’t have to run and tell their mommies that someone was mean to them.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Rob

    Feb 20. 2021

    City govt. (Yawn)

    Reply to this comment
  8. Robin

    Feb 20. 2021

    I was appalled by the antics of our new Auditor both at the meeting and on social media. I expect a certain amount of professionalism from elected officials and he clearly has no desire to conduct himself as a professional person in any venue. If he truly believes all of these violations are happening, why not quietly take the evidence to the powers who are appointed to decide the violations? The fact that he is orchestrating a circus instead shows that he is more interested in drama and attention than actually finding a remedy for the supposed issue. I can’t imagine dealing with this for the rest of his term. Pray for Laporte County!

    Reply to this comment
  9. IM4LP

    Feb 20. 2021

    I must say, this is not an “R” and “D” situation…Just look back at how Tim Stabosz treated Republican Mayor Blair Milo, as well as ALL the La Porte City Council Members. Stabosz is a problem that fortunately the City of La Porte was able to remove with votes. Unfortunately, this problem has now infiltrated County government. I hope that going forward, all citizens of La Porte County will think long and hard before ever electing Tim Stabosz to ANY office again.

    Reply to this comment
    • AJ

      Feb 20. 2021

      Mr. Stabosz comes off as childish, paranoid and jealous of Mr. Friedman. His behavior is ridiculous at the county meetings and LaPorte County deserves better.

      Reply to this comment
  10. John

    Feb 20. 2021

    Tim Stabosz is in office BECAUSE people voted for him. If you aren’t satisfied with the way he holds a County office, then WHY did you vote for him? I remember how he treated Mayor Blair Milo and would never vote for him for street sweeper. I also think playground squabbles should not be done on the taxpayers’ dime.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Gail Cains

    Feb 20. 2021

    Mr.Auditor please stop defaming people and focus on your job.
    Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to defame.

    Reply to this comment
  12. derald borton

    Feb 20. 2021

    You where elected to do a job Mr. Auditor. Not defaming someone. So get back to work.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Bill Proud

    Feb 20. 2021

    I was the first to respond to this article. Mr. Tim is not a nice person. Nothing to do with politics. He was a clown show at every city meeting. The people of Laporte County deserve better. Let him pay his own legal bills

    Reply to this comment
  14. lawman

    Feb 20. 2021

    as mentioned-many SOMEONES voted for him. just like all the people screaming for TERM LIMITS. they are already in place. reps are 2 yrs, senators 4 and down the line. if the person is not doing the job, VOTE FOR SOMEONE ELSE. i was truly shocked when he won.

    Reply to this comment
  15. John Bolton

    Feb 21. 2021

    Mr. Stabosz has been nothing less than an adolescent child. I hope Shaw gets every penny he has out of him. From his ridiculous claims of “historic preservation” which he knows NOTHING ABOUT….to “Cheesy signs” and then when he did NOT get elected 10 years ago to city council, he threw a temper tantrum and called the electorate “dumb and incompetent”. How he was elected, by people he called incompetent….heck, he might even be right about it. But, this latest stunt of “play stupid games, win stupid prizes” should give uninformed people ZERO REASON to EVER vote for him again. He has multiple traffic violations of non compliance with seat belt laws, has irritated everyone he knows and is NOT a governor for the people. He needs to resign and AUDIT HIMSELF….RESIGN NOW.

    Reply to this comment
  16. Gail Cains

    Feb 21. 2021

    The LaPorte County Republican Party asked all their voters to vote straight ticket in the 2020 Election. It is not because people voted for candidates…they voted as asked for Party. Which is absolutely legal but also allows many unqualified people in office. But we all need to work together and what I have seen at meetings this year has to stop. Mr. Friedman has been an attorney for our County and I have been aware of his abilities as a lawyer and as a good citizen of our county where he lives with his family. He cares about this county and the citizens!
    I think Mr. Stabosz and all elected officials should conduct themselves with dignity and civility.

    Reply to this comment
    • Kathy daniels

      Feb 21. 2021

      Well said Gail Cains.. please consider running for office!
      Kathy Daniels

      Reply to this comment

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